"Prickly Path" 9x12, pastel - contact Michael
While painting my two "snapshots" yesterday, a raw wind got up and the clouds moved in. Schnebly Hill is a very beautiful perch to paint from, but it's not somewhere you want to be on a windy day. We retreated to the lee side of the hill and found shelter behind some junipers. I set up my easel on the lip of the canyon - it was a long drop down - so I could get an interesting perspective on some prickly pears with Snoopy Rock behind it. (Sorry, but Snoopy isn't visible from this angle.) Since my back was to the canyon, I had to make sure that, in the process of stepping away from my painting now and then, I wouldn't blindly step off the edge.
Prickly pears are a prickly subject to paint - so many pads, so many colors! I started this one by just blocking in a large mass of light, cool green and added some dark passages where the shadows seemed deepest. Next, I outlined a few pads with a dark brown pastel and then colored them in with raw color, going warmer and cooler as I needed. Finally, I added rim light on a few of the other, unfinished pads and suggested a few spines. You don't have to paint every single pad and add all the spines to tell the viewer that he's looking at prickly pears. If you get the overall shape and color of the mass right and detail a few pads, that's enough. The mind will fill in the rest.
I like this sketch because it is not overworked and preserves the energy of working quickly. Snoopy Rock is very sketchily done, but it's not the focus of the painting. I took about an hour to do this one.